Michael Riordon

the view from where I live

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Freedom Theatre under attack – again

In the early hours of March 19, Israeli soldiers took Mustafa Sheta from his home.  Sheta’s arrest came a few days before the Freedom Theatre’s annual General Assembly in Jenin.

Mustafa Sheta, Freedom TheatreThis is the latest in a long series of assaults by the Israeli occupation forces on personnel of the Freedom Theatre, a vibrant cultural centre in the Jenin refugee camp.

Thirty-five, father of three children, Mustafa Sheta is secretary of the Theatre’s board. He is also a researcher and journalist, with a well-known commitment to social and humanitarian activism. He works with the United Nations, and is currently studying for a Masters degree.  Recently he won an honours award and plans to pursue further studies in London, England later this spring.

“Since Mustafa joined the board last year he has been a tremendous resource for the theatre”, says Jonatan Stanczak, managing director of The Freedom Theatre. “His dedication, involvement and communication skills have meant a lot to us.  We are doing all we can to follow his case.  Until recently there was no information at all available but we just learned that there will be a court hearing in a few days.”

For more on Freedom Theatre programs, go here.

For a vivid portrait of the Freedom Theatre in action, see Our Way to Fight, chapter 2.

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Love in struggle

Meet Taiseer from Akka (in Israel) and Lana from Jenin (in the occupied West Bank).

This week human rights advocates launched a remarkable new website — loveunderapartheid.com — to share stories of Palestinians struggling to maintain love and family relationships despite the many walls and boundaries imposed by Israeli apartheid.

Israel’s systematic discrimination and segregation of Palestinians, laws impeding Palestinian marriages, and the splitting of families by the apartheid wall and checkpoints have made love a challenge at best, and sometimes even a crime.

By afternoon on the first day, tweets using #LoveUnderApartheid had caused the hashtag to trend worldwide, joining Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift in popularity on the social media website.  Imagine that.

You’ll meet a Palestinian citizen of Israel and a Palestinian from Gaza who struggle to plan an uncertain future; Samer, a native Jerusalemite, prevented from being with his mother during her last days battling cancer; Taiseer and Lana Khatib, who fight to keep their family together despite the blatantly discriminatory Israeli Citizenship Law.  And others….

The people who created the site welcome stories, the raison d’etre for this project.

I assume – hope – that as it grows, Love under Apartheid will embrace the love in struggle of same-sex partners, should any feel safe enough to share their stories.

For more information, contact loveunderapartheid@gmail.com.